Longevity can only be increased by maintaining your knife correctly, and cleaning is a crucial part of it. But a lot of people don’t really know how to clean correctly. The following article provides several tips for cleaning your knives quickly and efficiently.
Cleaning and washing your knife might sound like something easy and straight forward, but the reality is that it’s not. I mean, the actual cleaning part is easy, but knowing how to and for which type of knife is the hard part. I think many people don’t have a clue and are washing their knives in a way that’s doomed for dulling and further damaging their knives. Once you start noticing rust spots, it means that the damage is already done. And incorrectly washing your blade could be the leading cause of it. So it’s crucial to know what type of steps you can take to maintain a healthy standard of cleanliness for your blades.
If you have no clue on how to clean a knife correctly, this is extremely important for you, as unclean or damaged blades can lead to severe consequences.
When to wash your knife.
Yes, you need to wash your knife once you’ve used it. But when exactly do you do that? Do you wait till you start washing the rest of your kitchen equipment as most people do? No, your knife must be cleaned and washed as fast as possible; in fact, you should do this after each ingredient. The reason? Limiting cross-contamination and the more food rest on your knife for a prolonged period (worse with acidic foods), the more chances you will develop rust on your knife and thus damage it in the long run. Improperly cleaning your knife blade will result in premature oxidation. Oxidation leads to rust, and what follows is your edge retention going down dramatically. So, for you to preserve its cutting edge, you must wash it as fast as possible.
How to wash your knife correctly.
In all of the methods, the knife is washed by hand and with the same types of equipment. However, all of the methods have a different knife position.
Once you are ready to clean, use mild dish soap. Soak a sponge or a dishcloth in lukewarm (or hot), soapy water.
This method is for those who are used to work with a knife and have cleaned one for some time. Hold your knife by the handle with the point away from you. And with your other hand gently start wiping the blade clean on both sides, until you remove all food and stains.
This is a safer method, and I think it should be done by someone who is not used to clean a knife. Lay your knife flat on the countertop and again gently start cleaning it on each site individually, until satisfied with the result. Making sure you are being careful and not cutting yourself.
In my opinion, this last method is a perfect one. Everyone, even experienced people, should use it. You push the chef knife against the sink’s edge. This will reduce the chance of injury a lot, it’s not 100% foolproof, but it’s close enough. The surface also provides something to press on, so when you have food or gunk that is stuck on your knife, you can use that surface to press on. And you start cleaning your blade as with the other methods on each side carefully and gently.
If you see there are some dried food particles on the blade, let the knife soak in shallow water for a minute (not more!) to loosen the stubborn pieces. This is far better for your knife than scrubbing away, trying to remove them, and also safer for you. Unfortaunly I read a lot in forums where people had to learn this lesson the hard way when they slipped while washing a bit too vigorously and got a cut as a result.
How to never wash your knives.
I have gone through the topic of washing and things you should be avoided at all costs with your kitchen knives in quite a few articles. So I’ll repeat it. Do not wash your knives in a dishwasher ever! No matter what they say and who tells you to do it, just don’t. I know there are some knives like the Victorinox Swibo series, or the SwissClassic blades are supposed to be dishwasher safe. However, I would strongly advise you to wash it by hand, still. A dishwasher uses harsh chemicals that will destroy your knives in no time. But you will know more if you read this article, which I highly recommend.
Common safety tips on washing your knife.
Safety always comes first! And yes, knives can be dangerous if you are not careful. There are many things you should not be doing with your knife. But many times, I see people handling their knife in a way it makes me want to leave that place before something happens.
- Always make sure to keep the blade of the knife pointed away from you or your fingers.
- Always wash slowly and above all carefully.
- Because of scrubbing vigorously or quickly, the possibility that the knife would slip and you cutting yourself is quite high. So if you feel uncomfortable handling your knife that way, you can also lay it flat on the countertop and wipe each side individually.
Not all knives are washed the same way.
I thought washing is just washing, so what’s so different about it? Well, my friend, all metals are made differently, and all of them react differently to chemicals. Thus, a carbon steel knife should not be cleaned the same way as a stainless steel knife or ceramic knives for that matter. So let’s dig a little deeper into each and single one.
Carbon steel knife cleaning.
Carbon steel knives don’t have the elements that protect the blade from corrosion and thus need more maintenance. However, this doesn’t mean they are less effective than stainless steel blades. One of the most common knives in the culinary world is still made of carbon steel.
The ideal way to clean carbon steel knives without doing any damage is to wipe them with a clean rag after each use. And you do this without passing them under running water. There is no need to soak them in water; in fact, this is bad, especially for a prolonged time.
If you wish, you can clean a carbon steel knife with water, but you must take some precautions to reduce the appearance of rust and other spots that may appear over time. For example, after having cleaned your knife with a damp sponge, immediately rub it with a dry cloth. Or, never use soap of any kind whatsoever. And finally, whatever you do never leave them to air dry.
Stainless steel knife cleaning.
Washing a stainless steel kitchen knife is similarly straightforward. Because stainless steel is very rich in chrome, it rarely oxidizes. A stainless steel knife can be washed with hot water and dish soap or any other mild soap. But refrain from using harsh dish soap and do not ever leave your kitchen knife to air dry (which leads to rust). After washing your knife with water, dry it with a cotton cloth.
Ceramic knife cleaning.
We all know that ceramic and stainless steel knives last longer than many other types of knives. However, you still need to maintain them correctly.
The good news is that cleaning ceramic knives is very simple. Thanks to the fact that ceramic is chemically neutral (pH 7), it can resist corrosion. Ceramic knives are created with a mineral called zirconium dioxide, and cleaning a zirconium dioxide-rich kitchen knife is remarkably easy. After using your ceramic knife, Wash your ceramic knife by hand with soapy water and dry it with a kitchen towel. If possible, try avoiding using harsh scrubbers, such as steel wool, to clean the knife.
How to clean a serrated knife.
Due to their serrated edges, serrated knives can be a little more challenging to clean. If you would do it the standard way (so using a sponge or dishcloth), it often will snag the sponge or cloth. Because it has serrations, it would not allow cleaning the points so easily. An excellent alternative way is to use a dish brush. Dish brush will enable you to scrub the knife without worrying about snags and clean every small section of the blade. To do this method, you will need to follow steps to clean your serrated knife:
- Start with adding a small amount of dish detergent to the blade of the knife.
- Start scrubbing the knife down with the dish brush, making sure you clean every surface. It is essential to pay special attention to the points and gorges of the serrated edge, the same thing for the places where the blade meets the handle. Don’t also forget to scrub down the handle.
- Clean off the whole knife and make sure to dry it thoroughly with a piece of cloth.
- An excellent alternative method is with an old toothbrush. This would allow you to get into smaller spaces, but it might take more time.